Bosnia Muslims Say No Peace Without Land
Bosnia’s Muslims insisted Tuesday that peace could only come with the return of territory seized by force, raising the prospect of a second winter of war.
A predominantly Muslim convention of political figures, intellectuals and religious leaders on Tuesday accepted an international peace plan dividing Bosnia into three ethnic ministates--but only on condition that territory seized by Serbs is returned. Serbs refuse to do that.
Bosnia’s Muslim-dominated Parliament also met to decide whether to accept the U.N.-mediated plan, but it adjourned Tuesday night after hours of debate without making a decision. It is to resume debate today.
If Parliament sticks to the convention’s conditions, it would likely mean a continuation of the war that has left as many as 200,000 people dead or missing.
Bosnian presidential spokesman Kemal Muftic told reporters that if the government signs the peace plan, it would be signing its own death warrant.
It “would mean signing the eradication of the Bosnian state forever and getting nothing in return,” Muftic said. He acknowledged, however, that rejection of the peace plan would likely mean an upsurge in fighting.
In remarks to Parliament, Muhamed Filipovic, an opponent of President Alija Izetbegovic, accused the United States of pressuring the Muslims to sign.
Turning to U.S. Ambassador Victor Jackovich, he said:
“How is it possible that countries that invented human rights declarations and claim to represent democracy in the world . . . how is it possible for you to put such pressure on us and on our president to accept something we cannot accept?”
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department on Filipovic’s assertion that Washington was pressuring the Muslims to sign. Secretary of State Warren Christopher recently expressed support for Muslim demands for additional territory.